PhD Position in Design and Control of Steerable Catheters for Minimal Invasive Applications
Catholic University of Leuven

The successful applicant will become part of the Robot Assisted Surgery (RAS) group ( belonging to the department of Mechanical Engineering. This is a growing, dynamic, multi-disciplinary research group with links to micro-precision manufacturing, mechanical design, robotics and biomedical applications. The RAS group maintains tight and multiple collaborations with UZ Leuven, the largest (university) hospital in Belgium, which is located at 10 minutes ride (bicycle) of the department. The research on catheter-based interventions has been supported by the EU in FP7, H2020 and Marie-Curie Training Networks, this project is linked to ARTERY an H2020-funded project due to start January 1st 2021, coordinated by the Polytecnico di Milano, and FLEXFET a KUL-funded project on fetal surgery that is coordinated by RAS.


Recent efforts in robotics and automation research have fostered the development of a wide variety of bio-inspired snake-like continuum robots. Miniature continuum robots can access confined spaces and, thanks to their compliance, follow complex trajectories exchanging limited forces with the surroundings. These properties explain the appeal of these robots in surgical applications and minimal invasive surgery in particular, where critical tasks are to be executed within the delicate and complex environment of the human body.

Compared to rigid robots, precise position and force control of these compliant robots is much more involved. It calls for an integrated approach combining accurate robot proprioception (self-awareness) with improved exteroception and 3D reconstruction of the robot’s complex, deformable and often dynamic environment.
By looking at new mechanisms for actuation, sensing and control, this PhD will establish an improved understanding of and control over the robot’s pose and contact state within its surroundings. The conducted research will be applied on cardiovascular robotic catheter-based interventions and fetal surgical applications within an expanding research line at the department of Mechanical Engineering.    


  • Candidates must hold an engineering diploma that gives access to the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School PhD program (MSc degree obtained “cum laude” or equivalent).
  • Candidates must be fluent in English.
  • We are seeking highly motivated and goal-oriented candidates with a strong background in mechanical design, mechatronics, robotics or control.
  • Experience in programming in Python, C++ or RTOS would be an advantage.
  • Candidates must be ambitious but above all team-players.


The Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven),Belgium is pleased to offer a fully funded PhD scholarship to design and control continuum robots for minimal invasive surgical applications. The successful applicant will receive a fully-funded PhD scholarship for 4 years.


For more information please contact Mr. Mouloud Ourak, mail: or Mr. Gianni Borghesan, tel.: +32 16 32 92 67, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than December 31, 2020 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: December 31, 2020
  • Tags: Industriële Ingenieurswetenschappen

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